The Voices in Your Head

I’ve never believed myself to have a voice entirely separate from the many voices I hear, read, and internalize every day.

What would our debates about fiction look like, I sometimes wonder, if our preferred verbal container for the phenomenon of writing about others was not ‘cultural appropriation’ but rather ‘interpersonal voyeurism’ or ‘profound-other-fascination’ or even ‘cross-epidermal reanimation’? Our discussions would still be vibrant, perhaps even still furious—but I’m certain they would not be the same. Aren’t we a little too passive in the face of inherited concepts? We allow them to think for us, and to stand as place markers when we can’t be bothered to think.

Zadie Smith, “Fascinated to Presume: In Defense of Fiction,” New York Review of Books 24 October 2019

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